United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division
FRATERNAL ORDER OF POLICE METRO TRANSIT POLICE LABOR COMMITTEE, INC., Plaintiff,
WASHINGTON METROPOLITAN AREA TRANSIT AUTHORITY WMATA, Defendant.
Ellis, III United States District Judge.
breach of contract case arises from a labor dispute between
an employer, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority
("WMATA"), on the one hand, and on the other hand,
a WMATA employee, Officer Mark Millhouse ("Officer
Millhouse"), and his union, the Fraternal Order of
Police Metro Transit Labor Committee, Inc.
("Union"). When Officer Millhouse failed to receive
a K-9 officer position to which he felt entitled under the
terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement
("CBA"), the Union, on his behalf, initiated a
grievance pursuant to the CBA. In the course of pursuing this
labor grievance, the Union and WMATA resolved the dispute by
entering into a settlement agreement on October 11, 2016
(hereinafter, "Settlement Agreement"). This
lamentably did not end the dispute, as the parties then fell
to fighting over the meaning and application of the
Settlement Agreement, which led the Union to file its
one-count complaint for breach of contract. WMATA, in turn,
filed a motion to dismiss which presents the question whether
the parties' dispute over the meaning and application of
the settlement agreement may be litigated in this forum as a
state law breach of contract claim or whether this action is
a labor dispute that must be resolved by arbitration as set
forth in the CBA and the WMATA Interstate Compact
reasons that follow, the parties' dispute must be
reciting the facts or addressing the issues presented by the
motion to dismiss, it is important to describe the parties
and to understand the context in which this labor dispute
WMATA, is an interstate agency formed by a Compact between
three jurisdictions, the District of Columbia, Maryland and
Virginia, for the purpose of operating Metrorail and Metrobus
systems in those jurisdictions. See Fraternal Order of
Police Metro Transit Police Labor Comm., Inc. v. Washington
Metro. Area Transit Auth., 780 F.3d 238, 239 (4th Cir.
2015) (reciting the history and purpose of the Compact and
the role of WMATA in administering the Metrosystem). The
Compact authorizes WMATA to employ a police force, the Metro
Transit Police Department ("MTPD"), whose officers
have the authority to enforce the laws of the three
jurisdictions on the Metrosystem. Officer Millhouse is
employed directly by MTPD and by extension WMATA. The Union,
the defendant in this matter, is the bargaining agent for
MTPD officers, including Officer Millhouse, and is also a
party to the CBA with WMATA.
also important as a preface to describing the specific facts
of this case to identify certain provisions of the Compact
and CBA that play a role in the disposition of this matter.
To begin with, Article XIV, Section 66 of the Compact, which
governs the relationship between WMATA and its employees,
mandates that any labor dispute involving the meaning or
application of the CBA shall be resolved by
arbitration. The Compact also provides in Article XVI,
Section 80, in part, that: "The authority shall be
liable for its contracts and for its torts ... in accordance
with the law of the applicable Signatory (including rules on
conflict of laws). ..." Id. at Art. XVI, §
80. And finally, Article XIV, Section 81 of the Compact, in
conjunction with the enabling statute passed by Congress,
provides that United States District Courts shall have
jurisdiction over "all actions brought by or against the
Authority. ..." Id. at § 81.
entered into by WMATA and the Union (on behalf of MTPD
officers) also contains provisions relevant to these
proceedings. Specifically, Article 6 of the CBA sets forth
the manner in which WMATA must fill vacancies within MTPD, a
sub-unit of WMATA, including inter-departmental
transfers. WMATA and Fraternal Order of Police/Metro
Transit Police Labor Committee Inc. Collective Bargaining
Agreement, Article 6 (October 2010). Additionally, Article 9
of the CBA sets forth the grievance procedure that governs
any "dispute between the Authority and the Union
concerning the meaning, interpretation and/or application of
[the CBA]." Id., Article 9. Specifically,
Article 9 sets forth a five-step grievance procedure with the
final step being arbitration or appeal to a trial board.
this context, it is now appropriate to recite the pertinent
purposes of WMATA's motion to dismiss, the material facts
set forth in the Union's complaint must be accepted as
true and are as follows:
• Officer Millhouse, who is represented by the Union,
has been continuously employed as a MTPD officer since May 4,
On July 10, 2014, WMATA (through its sub-unit MTPD) issued
a vacancy announcement for a position as a K-9 officer.
Officer Millhouse applied for the K-9 officer position and
on July 28, 2014, WMATA issued a memorandum stating that
Officer Millhouse was eligible and ranked fourth on the
list of potential candidates (presumably based on
After this memorandum issued Officer Millhouse was
suspended for one day in late 2014 for allegedly failing to
report a traffic accident.
On March 2, 2015, WMATA notified Officer Millhouse that he
was no longer eligible for the position of K-9 officer
given his 2014 disciplinary action.
Thereafter, Officer Millhouse was disciplined on two other
occasions: first, on April 4, 2016, Officer Millhouse
received a two day suspension for purportedly improperly
ejecting a round of ammunition from his service firearm;
and second, on May 16, 2016, Officer Millhouse received a
three day suspension for allegedly participating in a
pattern of attending court proceedings unnecessarily.
The Union, utilizing the CBA's grievance procedures,
filed four grievances on behalf of Officer Millhouse: the
first three related to Officer Millhouse's disciplinary
sanctions and the fourth related to WMATA's
March 2, 2015 determination that Officer Millhouse was no
longer eligible for a K-9 handler vacancy.
On October 11, 2016, WMATA and the Union entered into the
Settlement Agreement resolving the Union's fourth
grievance, specifically whether Officer Millhouse would be
eligible to serve as a K-9 officer.
The Settlement Agreement provides that:
Millhouse will be appointed to the next EOD K-9 opening if
Officer Millhouse meets the following requirements:
(1) Officer Millhouse must for a period of 8 consecutive
months of active duty remain free of a disciplinary action.
This period will be measured from the effective date of the
(2) Officer Millhouse must achieve 8 consecutive months of
active duty service without a disciplinary action no later
than March 31, 2017. If Officer Millhouse is unable to
achieve 8 consecutive months by March 31, 2017, he may still
qualify for an appointment to the K-9 ...